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Showing a Story Character With Poems

He lay,
a thinking quiet,
a listening, feeling,
the rhythm of blue,
the color of absence,
the downcast of soul,
and still he chose a smile.

I had the odd thought of using poems to write the petal collector’s side of the story. This is a bit of one.

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Writing Prompt: Key

While listening to a Dodger game, I decided to be prudent with my time and do some practice writing between innings. I chose “key” as a writing prompt. Here’s a quick write from the prompt. Nothing great, but the exercise was a lot of fun.

She counted the times the old lady had visited that shack: nineteen since the day Wesley had died. The trunk she dragged out, the blue linen cloth that covered its contents, the crystal perfume bottle, the delicate necklace that carried the key — none of those interested Jade anymore. The trick to getting an invitation inside was convincing Millie Shepherd, town matriarch and her mother-in-law, that Jade knew the reason for the frequency of the visits — and that she knew where Millie had hidden the shoes she wore that ugly night.

Sounds intriguing. I might have to return to this one.


 

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Grandma Dee and Tea

In a new scene I’m writing, Rose recalls her grandmother‘s jar collection and the story Grandma Dee had for each one of the jars. They would have tea together as Rose listened. It was during one of these times that Rose learned about a God who loved her. Rose eventually  rejects this God — her childhood pains required this, she told herself — but, thankfully, He doesn’t reject her.

I did not know either of my grandmothers. I met them both, but I was too young to remember feeling a loving touch or having a conversation that might influence the course of my life. I do have fond memories of my Grandma Mamie. She lived in Ohio and her long-distance phone calls were highly anticipated by her six grandchildren. She would regularly send us gifts and one of these has stuck in my mind since I received it when I was no more than five years old: a transistor radio, which was the coveted piece of technology in the mid-1960’s. A vivid memory I have is laying on the grass in our backyard, staring up at the clouds, my transistor radio at my ear,  and listening to Sukiyaki, a song sung in Japanese.

Story writing is the method I use to create what I missed out on in life or to change my experiences into how I wished they had been for me — a super power I own that has healed many emotional wounds.

My grandmother will visit with me, in a way, through my stories.

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Nighttime Writing Tools

 

Nighttime writing tools: Mac, coffee, Scrivener, chewing gum, and anything from my garden that smells good.

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Story Character Sketchiness

Writing a first draft is like hopping in a car and driving without a specific destination. You go where you go. For example, just when I think I have Rose’s character down, she does something I don’t have listed on her sketch — like being late. According to my notes, Rose is a responsible employee. She’s smart, an excellent worker, has many awards for her contributions, and guards that fame in interesting ways. This week I had an idea to start a scene with Rose being late for work, and her expertise is crucial to winning a visiting client. Late? What could make her late? Guess I’ll find out soon.

I am not the most patient story writer. Sometimes I get so impatient that I write my story scenes out-of-order. For example, I couldn’t wait to write Rose’s first sighting of the petal collector. Even though I still don’t know what happened to make her want to take her life, I gave her a glimpse of the person who would make her even more unhappy. That’s the way I write — things go one way, then the other, and eventually they all meet to make sense and a story.

So, Rose is late for work, and I still don’t know why.

(Click here to see the beginnings of Rose’s story, The Petal Collector.)